While the current COVID-19 outbreak is dramatically impacting the lives of every person in our country, please remember that the homeless and those at-risk of homelessness are particularly vulnerable, as they have much higher rates of serious underlying health problems, generally lack access to quality health care, and have no way to self-quarantine.  People bedding down on the streets and in other public places are constantly exposed to the environment and lack access to bathrooms and running water needed to simply wash their hands, let alone “shelter in place.”

The situation is becoming dire. At one point this year, the food pantry which supplies our families with weekly food bag suspended operations. Consequently, many of our neighbors will quickly face food insecurity and that number grows daily.  Limited resources, impending layoffs and reduction of work hours further impede some families and their ability to buy food and other basic necessities.

Extended temporary closures and work from home policies for social service organizations and other partner agencies have directly impact the people needing these services most.  Although services are provided on-line, for our homeless neighbors and other vulnerable populations, access to computers or finding an organization that can assist them is extremely difficult during this time of crisis.

Take Lena for example, who recently successfully completed a 30-day stay at a substance abuse treatment center.  Sadly, Lena was discharged with no permanent home to return to. Now homeless, she snuck into a local church where she slept there for a couple of nights.

Lena arrived at Homefirst in dire need of temporary safe housing, food and counseling. Our Homefirst staff quickly reacted by working with the Union County Department of Social Services to place Lena in temporary housing. Simultaneously, Homefirst was able to work with our partners at the Plainfield Housing Authority to help her secure a long-term housing voucher.

While these are some major steps on Lena’s road to recovery and self-sufficiency we know that she will require on-going case management, food and other hygienic items.

It’s these types of frustrating situations that Homefirst deals with on a daily basis.  After assessing her plan of action, Homefirst created a checklist of essential needs and steps for her to stabilize her living situation.

You can help!  Please take a moment to help Homefirst raise funds to support families and children in these difficult times   All donations will be used to help with housing emergencies, purchase food cards, buy basic necessities (such as diapers and feminine health products), and provide on-going case management.